NJ Hazmat Team Honors RAE Systems for Hurricane Sandy Actions

NJ Hazmat Team Honors RAE Systems for Hurricane Sandy Actions
The Berkeley Township Emergency Response Team in New Jersey uses a MultiRAE Plus gas-detection monitor from RAE Systems to examine a drum that was washed ashore in a residential neighborhood following Hurricane Sandy.

RAE Systems Inc., the leader in innovative toxic gas and radiation detection solutions, announced it has received an Exceptional Service Award from the Berkeley Emergency Response Team in New Jersey. RAE Systems received the award for its quick action during Hurricane Sandy preparations that helped keep responders and the public safe during operations following the largest Atlantic hurricane ever recorded, which hit the eastern seaboard October 29, 2012.

As Ocean County, New Jersey, braced for the storm, its small company of volunteer Hazmat responders made preparations to join a larger Ocean County search effort after the storm passed.

The Berkeley Emergency Response Team was split to accompany other county search and rescue teams who would go door-to-door after the storm in search of survivors and victims. They would use their detectors and expertise to make sure structures were safe for urban-search responders to enter safely. Small strike teams were also organized to address the many hazardous materials incidents caused by the cutting winds and severe inland water surges wrought by super-storm Sandy.

But the Response Team was without two of their handheld gas-detection monitors -- critical tools used in disaster operations to monitor environments for toxic gases that could endanger the health and lives of responders and the community members they serve. The response team contacted its safety-equipment supplier, Gen-El Safety & Industrial Products, who requested immediate emergency help from Silicon Valley-based RAE Systems.

"We found ourselves in a dilemma," said Assistant Chief Larry Doyle of the Berkeley Emergency Response Team. "We were down two of our multi-gas detection instruments, and although they were on order, we would not get them before the storm hit. Without those monitors, we effectively would have been shut down and unable to meet our assistance obligations."

When the order for the new monitors could not be expedited in time, RAE Systems' New Jersey-based regional gas-detection expert, G. Robert Ladzinski, responded to the request within hours and hand-delivered two RAE Systems MultiRAE multi-gas monitors with photoionization detection (PID) capabilities to the Hazmat unit for use during the storm event.

Utilizing the MultiRAE instruments along with other detection monitors following the storm, the Ocean County Hazmat teams responded to gas leaks along the coastal communities devastated by the storm and its 70-mph hurricane-force winds. The teams found gas mainlines that had been severed and damaged gas tanks that were leaking. Many of the oil tanks and drums were floating through neighborhoods or landing in backyards, including drums filled with degreasing agents and two that contained pure methanol, a highly toxic and volatile compound.

"We put RAE Systems' gas-detection instruments to good use as our Hazmat personnel performed stop-and-prevent actions on oil tank leaks, propane cylinders and natural gas lines for five days after Hurricane Sandy slammed the coast," said Doyle. "Stepping up to help us in such a committed way really says a lot about the company, its suppliers and its employees, and we wanted to recognize them with this award."

The Berkeley Emergency Response Team commendation awards were presented to John Kelley of Gen-El Safety & Products and RAE Systems' Ladzinski for providing the critical monitoring equipment needed to protect Ocean County responders and citizens.

"RAE Systems always strives to exceed customer expectations -- but these first responders are the real heroes," said Ladzinski, who drove four hours to deliver the gas monitors ahead of the storm. "We are humbled to receive this award from a group that knows something about making personal sacrifices to get things done."

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